Above: I'm wearing a secondhand Ulla Johnson dress from eBay with a new Brixton hat from Revolve that I'm also tempted to purchase it in purple. What do you guys think? Harper is in a Doên dress similar to this one and a thrifted Helen Kaminski boater from Greene Street Consignment in Chestnut Hill. I loved our outfits so much I ended up sketching them. Check it out below and let me know if you prefer the black and white or color!
I put my blog on pause this spring in order to focus on getting my family settled in our new home. Now, that that's accomplished-- beds are bought and made up, playrooms are organized, pictures are hung on the walls, and everyone's up to date with doctor and dentist AND vet visits aiaiai-- I've been going through pics stored on my laptop from this spring. I can't believe I never shared this idyllic day with you guys! First of all, I want to keep it fresh in my head, because I want to be sure to make it back to Holland Ridge Farms next year in plenty of time to enjoy the tulips in full bloom. We actually ended up visiting on the very last day that the farm was open this spring! We felt very lucky to have made it all, and even though it was late in the season, it was a perfect day of chicken-watching, pony-riding, tulip-picking, and food trucks. As you can see from some of the brown rows in the images above, the tulips had started dying. It will be incredible to see the farm in its fully glory next spring!
Did you guys have a chance to visit any tulip farms this spring? Have any of you been to Holland? Tulips are my favorite flower, so I'd dearly love to go one day! (Plus, I'd love to see the canals of Amsterdam.) In New York City, tulips would suddenly turn up in little bunches in the buckets outside my neighborhood bodega, and I'd know it was officially fall. They signify cool temps and cozy times to me.
Top- Secondhand Frame blouse from Shop Linda's Stuff. Same one here.
Skirt- Revolve from three years ago. Similar here. Use my link for 20% off!
Backpack- Vintage Chanel backpack. Similar here.
Booties- Pre-owned Frye booties. Similar here. (Size 7 & only $79!)
Did you guys know 2019's Fashion Revolution Week is already coming up next week? Check out the details here.
In honor of that annual event, started in 2013 to commemorate the collapse of the Rana Plaza and the thousands of factory workers who died that tragic day, I thought I'd discuss what slow fashion is about and link to some great posts below! First and foremost, though, I'd like to emphasize that you can't buy your way into sustainability. If sustainability is about buying anything, it's more about buying less, and yes, choosing well/ sustainably made garments can be key, because that often means your garments are made more carefully and with higher quality fibers and will last for a greater number of wears. For example, shooting for 30 wears is the rule of thumb for slow fashion! Asking myself whether I'll wear a garment or a pair of shoes or a bag at least 30x has stopped me from making a lot of wasteful purchases since I became aware of the need for a fashion revolution on that fateful day six years ago.
Choosing sustainably made or secondhand garments and shoes (and even designer bags) is certainly preferable, but those options aren't open to everybody. So it's not about a sustainability/ virtue olympics, either-- aka who is the most sustainable of them all! (Honestly, I thrift not out of virtue, but because I LOVE the hunt! And I mostly shop sustainably made designers when the budget allows, because the garments are nicer for the reasons I mentioned above!
What sustainability is truly about is a sense of inclusivity and an awareness of the circular economy and environment that ties us all together. At the heart of slow or sustainable fashion it's about transforming this attitude towards our garments and hopefully towards our world...
Into this one...
(Click on both images to take you to two great posts on some finer points of what sustainable fashion is all about!)
My suede skirt above is a great example of a loved garment! I bought it on sale on Revolve three years ago, and I wear it all the time. It's such a great neutral piece, and I can dress it up or down, make it chic or boho. (Although I hate that word and cringe writing it... but it does conjure up a style image, so I'll leave it.) I was so upset to spot a stain as you can see in the image where I'm checking out the outfit in the mirror-- a shiny spot that's probably from makeup or lotion on my hands. In the past, I might have been tempted to throw the skirt into the giveaway bag I always have going, what with two children growing like weeds. Coincidentally, that evening I happened to spot this incredible graph (see below) on Faye Delanty's Instagram stories! Faye Delanty is the beauty and brains behind Fashion Hound in Australia and THE queen of thrift queens.
When I first became aware of sustainable fashion, I definitely fell prey to the mistaken belief that my conscious consumer choices could change the world. While I continue to think it's better to be informed, what will change the world is consumers taking companies to task for polluting the planet, mistreating factory workers, and abusing animals, and that means systemic change needs to happen. It's going to take a paradigm shift not simply a shift in the spending habits of individual wallets. I do think, though, that when we treat our own garments as if they're valuable and worth being cared for instead of as disposable goods, I hope this mindset will trickle down to positive changes in every aspect of our lives-- to valuing and loving ourselves, our planet, our children's futures... and will help grow and strengthen our resolve to see companies treat the environment and their workers with the same attitude of loving respect.
That said, this Fashion Week 2019 I hope you will consider asking one of your favorite designers #whomademyclothes?
P.S. Using this graph, I've now saved my favorite skirt AND my favorite jeans by 3x1!
Dress by Dôen last year. Similar here.
Bag by Faithfull the Brand. Sold out everywhere but Bloomingdales.
Vegetable-dyed clogs by Swedish Hasbeens. Similar here.
Okay, not technically wearing a "designer" bag per se in these pics, but I have collected quite a few secondhand ones now! And most of them recently. As in the past three or four years, ever since I discovered the magical fact that you can buy a vintage Chanel purse, and it's just as nice (if not more special) than a new Chanel purse and at a quarter of the price. A Chanel bag keeps its value, so even the secondhand ones are usually quite pricey, BUT there are ways around that if your heart is set on Chanel (or Chloé or YSL) and the wallet does not quite allow. I'll be going into that in the post below, along with a few other tips and tricks I've picked up along the way!
I actually enjoy collecting all kinds of bags. The straw one above is a Faithfull the Brand (one of my favorite sustainable brands) basket bag I bought on sale at ShopBop. (It's sold out everywhere but Bloomingdales for some reason. Maybe because they haven't put it on sale. Click the link above if you still dig it!) Or, if your heart is set on a designer bag, and you're interested in both a budget AND earthy friendly option, read on below:
1. Proceed with Extreme Caution
I don't quite understand why some bags are so valued above others to the point that people would buy fakes just to have a bag (ostensibly) from that brand. Chanel bags really are truly beautiful, and I'm not sure if I've seen a fake. I have walked past these terrifying stalls that pop up off Canal Street, where the world's most shifty-eyed people coax you to check out these sad, huge piles of fake YSL and Louis bags for twenty or so bucks a pop. There's a weird, make-shift, off-putting, nervous vibe to the illegal enterprise of fake bags that makes me walk faster. Although, last time I was in NYC, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, the bags looked pretty legit.
So why buy "real"? If you do look closer at a true designer bag, a Chanel, for example, it is exquisitely sewn. The material is gorgeous and soft-- I prefer caviar leather to lambskin both for easier upkeep and because the lambskin makes me sad to think about even secondhand. I can't quite understand why people would bother buying fakes just to pretend to have a certain kind of bag. I mean, I guess I get it, but it seems silly. (If you Google "concept of authenticity and fashion" there are SO many fascinating pieces on the subject. Here's one.) In a nutshell: I think quality always matters more than labels. Sometimes labels can even look a little vulgar. I feel like Instagram has made me sick of a certain pair of double Gs. There are SO many exquisite bags out there that are not designer. I love Polene Paris, and really lust for one! Sézane makes gorgeous bags. And Rouje has started to make not only straw bags, but cute leather satchels as well, not to mention that this summer, I can tell you, harmless bamboo and straw bags are in. There are incredible vintage options as well, and Clare V makes some cute vegan bags, too!
However, if you do want to buy a designer bag secondhand, you do have to watch out BIGTIME for fakes marketed as the real thing. Unlike the at least semi-honest knockoff dealers in Manhattan, some people will actually try to charge you more for a fake bag than they would if they were just selling them as fakes. The whole thing is kind of creepy and puzzling. Metaphysical questions of authenticity aside, it's soul-crushing to spend your hard-earned dollars on an item that isn't "real". I realized what a close brush I had with this issue when I bought my third designer bag. A gently used Céline bag bought from a random seller on eBay. I realized, when I received the very cute but plain black leather bag, that it would have been so, so, so easy to replicate a fake. Only after buying the bag, did I spend the time authenticating it. I'm 99% sure it's authentic, and of course eBay guarantees its purchases, but I think the whole thing could have turned into an ordeal. Now I spend time beforehand authenticating my purchase myself. With Chanel, your bag should come with at least an image of a serial number and an authenticity card that helps give you peace of mind, although I guess those could be very easily faked. The issue people don't consider is that designer bags are good investments: they don't depreciate much in value and they're often "guaranteed" by the designer. I've heard you can take your Louis Vuitton bag to be repurposed for free, although I haven't tried it yet with my own secondhand ones. That's all to say, if you're plunking down money for a certain bag, you should take the time to make sure you're actually getting what's being advertised.
2. Shop from Reliable Secondhand Retailers Only
There are a few shops I trust now on eBay like Linda's Stuff or Cocoa's Fab Finds or Luxury Garage Sales. I would urge caution shopping on eBay from sellers of designer bags with fewer than several hundred (or even thousand) ratings, and even then do your homework! I have yet to purchase from The Real Real, but I've checked out their site extensively and have heard great things. One of the things I like about the retailers I mentioned above is that they're all really good about disclosing any flaws-- an aspect of secondhand designer bag shopping that I'll go into in my next point. Tradesy can be good as well, but the prices are usually a little steeper and if you do have an issue their customer service is horrendous and their return policy is Tradesy credit only. Some other vintage and secondhand sellers that I love are Rice and Beans Vintage (Anine Bing consigns her stuff there!) and a consignment shop in Ridgefield, CT called Bring 'n Buy (will check if they have a website).
If you're really into thrifting, there's always a chance you'll spot a designer bag out in the wild, but that's pretty darn rare/ unheard of. I did just get into collecting vintage Etienne Aigner bags (although how cute and vintage is this new one) and then I found TWO of them at Shop Greene Street this past week for only $18 a pop! (Greene Street is a consignment shop in the Philadelphia area.) But that kind of sighting is pretty rare and even rarer in the case of high end designers. I'd say hunting around online for the bag of your dreams at a price point that works for you is a better use of your time and wallet! That brings me to...
3. It Is 100% Possible to Afford a Designer Bag, But...
Yep, there's a "but". My first Chanel bag had a big scratch across the back and some wear on the corners. The seller disclosed all the issues, and the price and dark lipstick red color were incredible, so I went ahead and purchased it. If your heart is set on owning a Chanel bag or a Saint Laurent or what have you, it is possible, but you may have to lower your standards to "gently used" or even very used until the price matches what you can reasonably afford to purchase without breaking your bank account. (I don't think you should break your bank account! As a blogger, I felt it would help grab people's eyes if I featured a vintage Chanel bag with my thrifted outfits, so it was a worthwhile investment for me. But as I wrote above, there are plenty of beautiful non-designer bags out there that will look stunning with any outfit.) However, the good news is that sometimes sellers will overstate an issue. I recently found my first (gently used) Chloé bag at an excellent price. The seller described it as having dirt on it, but the pictures looked fine. I could discern no dirt! I crossed my fingers and made the purchase. The bag arrived so quickly! (Bought from My Designerly. They also offer layaway FYI, as does Rice and Beans Vintage!) I could discern NO DIRT on the pale gray bag whatsoever. It looks brand spanking new. (You can see lots of images of it and my other vintage designer bags on my Instagram @IsabellaDavidVintage.) I decided not to question the goodness of the gods and remain mystified but happy I got the bag.
4. Be Patient and Flexible
Spend some time, or even A LOT of time, hunting around for the right bag at the right price for you. You'll learn so much about different bags and different price points this way. You'll get a good sense of what's out there and what constitutes a good price, and you might even find a hidden treasure on sale that you hadn't even considered before!
The Truly Great Story of How I Got My First Designer Bag
Wait, did I claim you can't find designer bags out in the wild? How could I have forgotten the all-time greatest story of how I thrifted my very first designer bag-- a Louis Vuitton satchel. I was living in Soho at the time and working as a catalogue model. This was 2010, but I had just moved in with my now husband, whose apartment it was. Everything in that neighborhood was too rich for my blood, so I tended to stop into the Second Time Around Consignment shop on my way home to console myself for all the boutiques I had to pass on by. (One of my best thrift tips is to thrift where the wealthy people live. They will wear a stunning dress ONCE and then toss it, because, and I quote "I got photographed in it." This was from an ordinary but wealthy girl that I met in NYC who equated Facebook with the Daily Mail.) This particular STA branch was just off Prince and closed a couple years ago. (There's a Housing Works in Tribeca now, and I'm dying to stop in there one of these days!)
Anyway, so around that time, way back in the early part of the century-- ha, this story is making me feel old--Bravo had just started a short-lived reality show set in the consignment shop. The day I went in and found the Louis bag hanging in an ordinary rack alongside a bunch of other random purses, the three diva stars of the show happened to be working. I brought my find to the counter, and I could tell pretty fast from their unfriendly stares that semi- Bravo fame had gone to their heads. It was almost like the cameras started rolling, because they were primed for drama, because the beautiful bag gleaming there on the counter became the focal point of said drama. I mentioned already that I was completely broke back then and only living in Soho because my boyfriend (now husband) already had an apartment there. But that day was special, so I was treating myself to what I thought was a $125 bag. I had just happened to have gotten paid in cash for a miserable catalogue job in Midtown, and the money was still warm in my pocket. (Miserable as in they'd roll out these racks of ugly polyester clothes and you had to put on and take off one hideous garment after another for hours and hours without breaks or food. Modeling is definitely not a glamorous career unless you're one of the handful of supermodels.) Anyway, I laid the bag carefully on the glass counter, and one of the women, who I recognized from the show, sniffed like a British duchess before a commoner who had not curtseyed.
"This is not priced correctly," she said, eyeing the bag. I almost apologized as if I had been the one to misprice the bag! "This bag should be more than that."
My heart sank. It was on the tip of my tongue to ask how much the bag was, but before I could get the words out, with one fluid motion, she swooped the bag up and put it behind the counter with the other more expensive items.
"Wait," I said. "I still want the bag."
That was false. Actually, I now mostly wanted the bag, because her rudeness angered me. The way she was treating me was exactly the way I'd seen her disdainfully treat customers on the Bravo show. That same mixture of contempt and ill humor that bespeaks unwarranted drama and probably attracted the producers to her in the first place. She looked me up and down slowly, giving me the oddest sensation that a camera was recording the scene. It was Pretty Woman-in-that-boutique level upsetting and surreal. Her behavior was also a little crazy. SHE WAS ACTING FOR CAMERAS THAT WEREN'T EVEN THERE! And then she said it. I'll never forget. A Bravo Reality villain worthy line.
"You couldn't afford it."
I went very hot and then very cold, and suddenly, I was transformed into the superhero version of myself I wish I could be all the time. I literally have a name for her! I call her Brooklyn Izzy. (My mother is from Brooklyn and my father from France, but I mostly grew up in Virginia. From that odd combination, most New Yorkers assume I'm Canadian, because, I'm that mild-mannered, polite, and (I quote many a New Yorker) "so nice". I stutter. I'm shy. I would never seek out a conflict, but sometimes, every now and then, a conflict finds me. And not just any conflict triggers the superhero version of me. It has to be the kind that fills me with a righteous fury, when I know I'm 100% in the right as I was in this case. And when it does, it's like this other personality jumps into the tollbooth of my mind, does a quick change into a cape and takes over, and NO ONE crosses Brooklyn Izzy.
"So how much is it?" I asked her.
This time she told me a price (out of thin air mind you), but she cut the camera-worthy antics.
I took the cash out of my pocket in what was maybe the most baller and possibly foolish (considering how broke I actually was) moment of my life and I slapped down THE EXACT amount. $375. Everything I'd been paid that morning. A stupid but stunning act of bravado. And oh so worth it.
I completed the transaction, and then it was as if the petty spirit of that reality show infected me too for a moment. It wasn't great, but I looked at her and the other guy from the show who had joined in, drawn to the scent of brewing drama. I was still cool, calm, and collected, operating with that lightning running through my veins.
"This is going to make a great story on Yelp," I told them, and they got SO upset.
At first the woman in charge accused me of threatening her with Yelp, and I had to point out it was her own words I was going to repeat. I was so calm and matter of fact that she calmed down, too. (Brooklyn Izzy is always says the exact right thing at the right moment. WHY cannot I be her ALL the time instead of my usual tongue-tied self??) If she didn't like her own words, I pointed out to that fame-crazed woman, why did she say them? I think that's when she apologized, and I mostly kept the story to myself. (It's been nearly a decade, and the shop is closed now.) I never shopped in that shop again. It's closed now, and through the secondhand grapevine I heard a rumor that, ironically enough, it was a potential issue with shady practices!
I guess it was all worth the encounter with crazed Bravo reality stars, because it's been almost ten years and I still use and love that bag! And it still looks great!
So that brings us back to the beginning: like I said when I started this piece, tread carefully. Even secondhand, the designer bag game is both a thrilling and a dangerous one! May the odds be in your favor!
What's your best thrift score? Have you ever bought a gently used designer bag? Where did you make your purchase?
I often say my favorite part about thrifting is the chance it offers me to learn more about designers who would otherwise be out of my price range. I actually first learned about the designer Ulla Johnson on Instagram. A happy result of a newfound interest in #sustainablefashion! However, when I Googled where to shop her pieces, I was crushed to learn her silk dresses ran in the $500 price range. Even her blouses were about $300!! I think it was around then I fell in love with eBay, Poshmark, and online consignment retail in general. Instead of scavenging for whatever treasures I happened upon, my thrifting took on a more x-marks-the-spot flavor. (FYI I haven't shopped from the Real Real yet, but I've heard excellent things, have browsed extensively, and noticed they have a supreme selection of Ulla Johnson pieces!)
My tailored online searches do sometimes help me find Ulla's pieces on sale on sites like ShopBop. (I just bought her popcorn Baranco tote for summer for 60% off here!) But I was thrilled when, on one of said searches, I found the embroidered Ulla Johnson peasant blouse I'm wearing in this post (above). (Only $75 on eBay. It's also a size 2, but I gambled on it anyway. Because peasant blouses are cut generously, it fits me fine! I also own Ulla pieces in sizes 4-10! Size doesn't matter. Fit is king!) The score reaped even more rewards after I posted it to my Instagram stories: one of my Romanian friends messaged me to tell me I was actually wearing a traditional Romanian blouse!
"Really?" I wondered, privately questioning how Mircea could know that. Wasn't the top simply an embroidered shirt? Wrong! So wrong! My pretty blouse was far, far, far from "simple" as it turns out. "Google 'la blouse roumaine'," my friend urged me. So I did only to learn, much to my delight, how truly layered and textured the history of my old, thrifted shirt really is...
Henri Matisse "La Blouse Roumaniane" painted in 1940
I believe fashion is art. It can express many things. Even a simple pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt expresses a state of mind. Even a NorthFace jacket and Uggs does the same, even if it's not the most original look. However, I don't mean to criticize the desire to conform. (When I was younger, I used to bitterly resent conservatively dressed people, because of the odd looks and comments my outfits garnered outside of the Lower East Side. Now I shrug my shoulders, because the LES, I know now, is a state of mind.) As far as conformity goes, in this year and in my region of the world, NorthFace jackets and Uggs are as ubiquitous as Romanian blouses once were in another part of the world. It could even be argued that the uniform of a warm black jacket and comfortable shoes is worn just as much to express age and social status just as the Romanian blouse was embroidered with flowers and images to do the same. Whether you think your outfit is fashion or not is beside the point: your clothes speak. If your outfit expresses a desire for comfort, that's up to the individual to choose function over form, but I do think people who wear fantastical colors and shapes and do so fabulously are a lot more fun (for me) to look at and promise to tell a heckuva lot more fantastical tales.
For example, there is no NorthFace jacket that inspired an artist as the Romanian blouse has done. In fact, the blouse has experienced a modern revival outside Romania because of a famous painting in 1940 by Matisse called "La Blouse Roumaine", which is why my top now exists and how this top I'm wearing is now deliciously referred to in the fashion world. The painting then inspired Yves Saint Laurent in 1981 to explore traditional Romanian costumes in a now landmark fashion show, from reincarnations of long, luscious skirts to crowns of gleaming braids, and, finally, the peasant blouse whose colors and embroidery not only express the wearer's status but are also distinctive markers of different regions of the country. Later on, designers such as Tom Ford and Phillippe Guilet drew inspiration from the same source. Now, Ulla Johnson is offering her own take on the traditional garment.
Why do you think so many designers have been inspired by this blouse? Do you own one?
In the end, what struck me in my reserach was how not one but FOUR Romanian and French writers, artists, and poets are said to have inspired Matisse's paintings and sketches of the Romanian blouse, as much as the gift to Matisse of an "IA", which is how the Romanian blouse is referred to in the community, by Romanian artist Theodor Pallady did. Some might look and see a blouse, but now I see Anna de Noailles' love poems, I see Matisse's endless sketches of soft female forms reclining in a nimbus of color and light, I see an online community devoted to stories around the Romanian IA or la blouse roumaine. Most of all, I now see these luminous words of Matisse's, discovered only now through my research into this beautiful piece, "“Color helps to express light, not the physical phenomenon, but the only light that really exists, that in the artist’s brain."
To me, fashion is color, a walking bit of art that reflects my own light and those of the souls around me. Secondhand or new, designer or not, I will clothe myself with color and light and silk and dreams, even if *dramatic sigh* I alone must take up and wear all the world's beautiful castoffs to do so. #thriftersoftheworldunite
We're settling in nicely after moving mid-January, and I'm so excited for the spring I decided to bring the spring to me in this petal pink outfit! I wouldn't usually wear pink on pink but I think it works here. One nice thing about moving: your clothes get thrown together in different ways, and you notice new combinations. I bought this petal pink Sézane coat on eBay last year and only noticed yesterday that it perfectly matches this blush Free People beanie I've had for years and this soft pink secondhand Tory Burch tote from Greene Street Consignment!) Would you wear pink on pink?
About a month ago, we moved for what felt like the bajillionth, gazillionth time since we became a family six short years ago. Our family having survived these many, many, many, many moves in one piece (more or less), I told myself I was a pro now! I was sure I could make this next (and hopefully last) move easily, efficiently... so basically in my dreams.
It was A MOVE. You know what they say: pride comes before a move... or is it a fall? Fall or move, it felt the same-- i.e. chaotic, endless with a nice thump on the tuckus at the end. By definition, moving is always going to be a no-good, 100% horrendous time. There's nothing you can do about that, but, afterwards, I did discover there IS something you can do about the stress that comes along with wintertime. You don't have to give in to winter stress! As for moving stress, in some ways, it was kind of a relief to finally surrender to the total horror of moving house with two toddlers, a puppy, a cat, and a 150 lb Newfoundland. Instead of adding pressure to do human things like wear clean clothes or eat square meals, I acknowledged there might sometimes be factors outside my control. Actually, the ordeal sort of reminded me of finals. I'm not quite sure what I learned that was of much use in college-- I was a Comp Lit major so I can parse the heck out of some gnarly semiotics or what have you-- but I do feel like finals week taught me one solid life lesson: you can survive anything if you just keep slogging to the other side and worry about washing your hair later.
I'm happy to report we're on the other side of this move! We're unpacked, the cable is hooked up, the kids are watching Super Why, and my hair is clean again! And I have learned another important life lesson: that while moving is inevitably horrible and there's nothing you can do about it, THERE IS SO MUCH YOU CAN DO TO FEEL 100% BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE WINTERTIME! Below are five things I did that helped me recover my sanity and my skin after a solid month of winter, moving, and being a full-time stay-at-home mommy/ zookeeper! I have been so excited at how much improvement I've seen in my skin and my outlook after a month of making these changes. What are some of your winter remedies for dry skin and the stress of bad weather?
1. Drink Water Inside and Out
This one's pretty basic, but it makes all the difference in the world. We're all familiar with the advice to drink your body weight in H2O, so I added this twist to help it stick in my head: drink a bunch of water whenever you can but also keep your humidifier going whenever you can as well. When you're asleep, place one beside your bed. When you're working, put it on your desk.... in fact let me go fetch mine right now! I love it. It's so easy to fill and cart around and it's purty. You can find it on Amazon. (This one even comes with a selection of essential oils for $34.95 including the humidifier/ diffuser.) BRB!
Okay, I'm back. I thought about it, and I have to admit maybe learned one thing of practical value in college. I took a Buddhist literature class my first year, and while I can't remember a single text that we read-- although maybe that's where I encountered Basho first and fell in love with Japanese poetry. You can read some of my haibun here!-- I did find out there was a Sri Lankan Buddhist Monastery in West Virginia pretty close to UVA, and I went to visit it one weekend for free. I learned to meditate there, but the beauty of meditation is you can learn/ do it anywhere at any time. The meditation the monk taught me was a simple one that I also use to help me count laps in the pool. Here it is: breathe in and count 1, breath out and count 2, breathe in (3), breathe out (4), and so on and so forth until you reach 10 and then you begin again. If you want something more guided, there are so many great apps with meditation exercises. They always put me to sleep, and I tend to meditate in the morning, so I've kept to my simple version. I don't manage to meditate every day, but even doing it occasionally for ten minutes here or there makes a dramatic difference in my outlook.
3. Work Out in the Morning
On a less esoteric note, I have to admit I picked up this bit of excellent advice, because I saw that Pete Davidson was dating Kate Beckinsale, an actress I haven't paid any attention to in many a moon. When I Googled her, I was blown away by how fit she looks! Her Instagram is also hilarious, so I hope that means they're soulmates and never break up. (They probably already broke up, didn't they. PLEASE DON'T AT ME. LET ME LIVE IN MY DREAM WORLD!) At any rate, Kate recommends morning workouts both for fitness and as a way to guard against anxiety and depression, both of which I struggle with to some degree every winter. (I think I might have SAD, but I've never been diagnosed.)
"Sweat," Kate Beckinsale claims, echoing one of my favorite authors Isak Dinsesen, "is nature's anti-depressant." I still don't think I would have taken this excellent advice if I hadn't found out my local gym offers morning daycare hours. I've been dropping my daughter off at school, grabbing coffee with my husband, dropping him at work, and then hitting the gym, and instead of exhausted by this grueling morning routine, I feel transformed. Instead of only feeling better in the evenings after my husband gets home from work and I squeeze in a workout, I am now 1000% more cheerful and energized the entire day long. Basically, me and Kate Beckinsale (and Isak Dinesen) can't recommend it enough. Sweat!
For anyone who's read this post to this point (Bless you. Thank you!), you might have picked up that I'm a bigtime reader. There are two side effects to this behavior: I'm constantly recommending books and authors (see points 2 & 3 above) but I'm also constantly frowning. For some reason, when I read, I frown. Ever since I was about 20, I've been fighting the curse of the 11. As much as I hate frown lines, the idea of Botox freaks me out, although I don't judge anyone for any cosmetic procedure they want to do to feel better about themselves. So for years, I remained stuck between Kim Kardashian's remedy-- resting bitch face ad eternitum-- or Botox, which carries the side effect of DEATH. So I did nothing besides massaging my forehead a lot and wearing bangs and felt kind of bad about it, and then I finally tried Frownies, and the temporary lines that were starting to become a permanent part of my look vanished! VANISHED! This stuff is magic. I also find fine lines are more prominent in winter, so I'm excited I don't have to wait until the air grows more humid for some relief this year.
5. Keep On Top of Moisturizing Creams and Masks
This isn't just a superficial suggestion: I've noticed the smells of my Jurlique rosewater spray or my favorite Bliss honey mask really perks me up and improve my mood in the gray, scentless winter especially. They might even provide the same effect as adding color to my wardrobe. Light floral scents and colors really trick my system in the winter! I'm currently really loving Edible Beauty's Ageless Goddess Serum, everything Jurlique does with roses, and Bliss's cruelty-free masks from their glycolic peel to their gentler honey mask. Check out this post for a simple nighttime routine that's easy to keep up. Mind you, I don't have sensitive skin, though, so I can try anything. For example, I love both olive oil or coconut oil for my hair and skin in the winter, although I recommend only using olive oil at home as it doesn't absorb the way coconut oil does.
What are your favorite winter moisturizers? Do you change your beauty routine in the winter same as me? Any tips or tricks for chilling out while keeping warm in the winter?
This January, we somehow managed to buy a home by hook or by crook! Originally, after our disastrous first-time home-buying experience, which we're still paying off, we thought it would be at least another three years before we could be in a house! My daughter would have been 8-years-old by then, and I really wanted her to have those early childhood memories, growing up in a cozy home of her own. That urgency probably helped motivate us. It also helped that Ryan, my husband works in real estate law and is even a professor on the subject at both Notre Dame and Penn Law, so those factors helped us finagle the system a little this time around. Maybe that's just my positive spin on what we went through with our first house, or The Money Pit 2 for short... It was a learning experience! But it was pretty cool that we went from being clueless to working as our own agents in our second home-buying experience. I should really write a blog post sharing some home-buying tips! Being well-informed and knowledgeable made all the difference. Let me know if you'd be interested in a post about home-buying tips and tricks in the comments below!
vintage Chanel Purse from Poshmark
vintage earrings from Antique Gallery in Chestnut Hill, PA
consignment necklace by Alexandra Margnat from Linda's Stuff
vintage dress from eBay
As for my winter refresh challenge: even though we were smart enough this go-around to buy below our budget so we could invest the extra money into home improvements, there were still unforeseen expenses. So far this 2019, I've been trying to shop less both because we're on a tight budget and because I'm into the idea of sustainability. (Or maybe it's because I feel vaguely shamed by Marie Kondo's omnipresent looming shadow (even though I've never watched her show out of pure fear of that beautiful, tiny lady). In that general spirit, I've been trying to wear things I already own but that I've never worn before maybe because I thought they were inappropriate for everyday occasions like this maxi dress or because I get in a style rut, especially when it's cold out. Does that happen to anyone else? I suddenly go from outfits to utility as soon as the weather dips.
This 70s-era vintage dress was my pick for my own closet challenge. It looked an odd combination of baggy and dressy on the hanger, but I made play around with it, and it suddenly fit just right with the help of a western belt and consignment Sandro booties from Linda's Stuff on eBay. (I also found this vintage dress on eBay but from a random seller that I can't quite recommend despite how stunning the dress ended up being. It arrived wrapped in not one but TWO Glad bags, yikes. I loved the print enough to have it drycleaned and now it's good as new or even better.... it's a completely original take on a new trend and it was mine for the low price of $17!) Is there something hiding in your closet that you could refurbish with new accessories and wear again? I challenge you to find one unworn piece before winter is over and tag me on Instagram @IsabellaDavidVintage. I'd love to see what you come up with!
As for unforeseen home-buying expenses: apparently, this car has been here since approximately 1950ish?! Yikes! Our neighbors told us the whole yard was littered with old cars and this was the last one the house-flippers left. Luckily, that was one thing we learned from our first time around the home-buying block. We were not shy about our pre-purchase demands, and part of our purchase agreement was having this tetanus soup taken away! We were also pretty lucky to work with very professional builders and sellers this go-around, although I wouldn't call it luck exactly, either. We really liked and trusted the sellers and that entered into our decision as well. That's not something we considered the first time around, either. I even nicknamed the previous owner of our first house "Scary Gary", ha. I know now that should have been a red flag! Are you considering buying a home? What are some of your concerns?
I loved checking out all of Meghan Markle's outfits on her recent trip through Australasia! What about you guys? Not only am I a fan of Meghan's modern and sophisticated, yet still romantic style, but it was even more delightful to see her sporting looks from several sustainable designers like Outland Denim, Veja, Reformation, Maggie Marilyn, and others! In fact, I was so enthused, I nearly wrote a post featuring Meghan's looks with Meghan wearing them. Luckily, before I made that blogging faux pas, I remembered something I'd read in My Blogging Secrets by Amber McNaught (a book on blogging that I highly recommend): you can get in a lot of trouble using other people's pictures! I thought about a solution and realized I had a bunch of similar items in my closet but had never thought of putting them together before. I had so much fun recreating three of her looks-- the fourth was a dress similar to one she wore on the Australian leg of her trip and that I wore often this summer. (For all her looks, check out this Vogue tribute to her trip!) Which one do you think worked out best?
Meghan wore this look with a blazer by her pal Serena Williams when she first arrived in Australia. Her jeans are by sustainable brand Outland Denim.
Vintage Ralph Lauren Blazer from Shop Linda's Stuff. (Only $18!!!)
Vintage Chanel Backpack from Tradesy.
JBrand Maria high rise jeans available now at Bloomingdales.
Scotch & Soda tie-neck blouse (sustainable designer) from Bloomingdales last year. Similar Maje blouse here.
Meghan wore her Veja sneaks on a boatride. (Veja sneaks are not only gorgeous but made of fairly sourced materials!) Here's her same pair in size 5 available at Poshmark.
My Veja sneakers are from Amour Vert a few years back.
JBrand Maria high rise skinny jeans now available at Bloomingdales (and sooo comfortable!).
Wrap top from Reformation at Nordstrom.
Pre-owned Tory Burch tote from Shop Greene Street.
This is probably my favorite look from Meghan's trip! I wish we'd had more light to shoot this nighttime look, but c'est la vie... it's getting darker earlier and earlier! I'll definitely be wearing this look again and will try to get a better shot. Her white sheath dress is by Karen Gee, and she immediately crashed the website after she wore it. I think it's a nice classic piece every woman should have, for sure!
My Vince white sheath dress was pre-owned from Second Time Around.
Miu Miu trench coat pre-owned from luxury consignment at Shop Linda's Stuff.
Nude Aldo heels from several years back.
Vintage Chanel double flap purse from Tradesy.
My second favorite look of Meghan's featured a dress by Reformation. Above is a dress by Sézane I wore quite often this summer! Sézane is a nearly sustainable designer. I don't see anything about it explicitly on their website, but they do go out of their way to value their seamstresses, and I love that their clothes always arrive wrapped in muslin instead of plastic! Not to mention, I love their clothes in general. Check out their fall lookbook here!
Sezane dress and shoes from this summer.
Straw circle tote from sustainable, online-only boutique www.shopbaiae.com.
Sunglasses from Sunday Somewhere.
On a related note, following the acclaim, the Duchess of Sussex is now receiving criticism for how expensive her many (glorious) outfits were. I think people are forgetting she was a blogger and actress before she was a royal, so I bet quite a lot of people are giving her clothes. Unless that isn't allowed anymore? Hmm, anyone know the law for royals? I can't imagine it's the same as for politicos as there's no question of election shenanigans after all. I do know that her checked blazer, the one I'm imitating in this first look, was designed by her friend Serena Williams! And that immediately after she wore that white sheath dress she crashed the designer's website! Plus, we all know the Royals are, well, royally rich. Not to mention, I'm sure she has plenty of money of her own after having had a successful acting career, right? And boy, does she continue to work hard for the money! I was frankly exhausted watching her make her way through Australia, attending one event after another, always with a beautiful, warm, sincere smile plastered on her face. The thought alone of how much that poor woman had to smile gave me a headache. Let the hard-working, rich lady enjoy her pretty frocks, I say! Jeez! I'm enjoying watching her wear them!
What do you think? As a role model, is it on her to dress sensibly or are you enjoying the princess fantasy as much as I am? Actually, what I love most about Meghan Markle's style is that all her looks are so wearable, comfortable-looking even, yet somehow still elegant! She really is my favorite style icon at the moment! Which of her looks from her trip did you like the most? As for my post, which of Markle's looks from above do you think you might be able to build from your own closet as I did or which look do you think you could imagine yourself wearing?
Slow Fashion October is almost over, and I barely had a chance to participate with one thing and another. (Wisdom tooth surgery and my Kindergartener's weeklong Fall Break chief among my excuses!) I actually wanted to participate, so I don't want to make excuses. Instead, I thought I would extend the month with a No Shopping Challenge in which I spend the next month shopping my own closet and posting never-worn or little worn items to my Poshmark Closet or my IG page @IsabellaDavidVintageShop. However, Slow Fashion October is not about denial, so much as it is about actually wearing and enjoying the clothes you do have in your closet! That's hard to do when it's cluttered and overflowing. So donate or sell what you don't wear and figure out what you are wearing or what you actually need to complete your outfits instead of endlessly buying the same things over and over! Is anyone else guilty of that?!
For example, two weeks ago, I could not devise a casual outfit to wear to my wisdom tooth removal surgery to save my life (pun intended). I actually managed to pick the exact wrong thing!?! A cozy, very white sweater. Wrong choice because the doctor became wayyy too worried about messing up my sweater, when I preferred that he focused on my teeth! I decided some closet renovations were in order and undertook this challenge in that spirit: I took one essential trend of the season (mine happens to be thrifted from eBay) and wore it three ways this week!
Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! Or check out more details on Instagram. Also, read more about what Slow Fashion October is all about here!
Pre-owned Burberry Wallet at Shop Linda's Stuff
This fall's Sézane Circle Bag available here.
Burgundy skirt from eBay. Similar here.
Frye boots from three years ago. Similar here.
MKT Studio "kuroko" sweater. Available here.
Scotch & Soda blouse from last year. Similar here.
Vintage Chanel backpack from Tradesy.
OTK boots from Bluefly 2 years ago. Similar here.
Cashmere sweater from Shop Linda's Stuff.
Tory Burch tote from Shop Greene Street Consignment.
Actually, I purchased the thrift skirt originally because of an image from Sézane's 2018 fall lookbook. I find a little inspo can help you comb through all the mountain of secondhand possibilities to unearth a treasure! That skirt (above) was only $18! I also found that cashmere sweater secondhand due to the same inspo source. FYI there are SOOOOOOOOO many like-new cashmere sweaters available for peanuts on eBay. This one cost only $20, and it's GORGEOUS. Soft and in perfect shape. If secondhand shopping isn't your thing, Reformation has started upcycling mountains of cashmere goodness into new cashmere products. Read more about why it's super important to shop ethical for cashmere here.
Which outfit do you think works best? Do you like to shop secondhand? Have you participated in a No Shopping challenge before? How long were you able to keep it up? Let me know and have a great rest of your October... Can't believe how fast it went by this year!
Vintage Ralph Lauren Blazer. Similar he re. Pink Yotto mini. Similar here . Western belt. Similar ones from Nordstrom here . Sézane bag available here. Urban Outfitters scrunchie. Sooo many similar available on Etsy (whoops!). Frye boots. Similar here . Chan Luu scarf. Similar here.
Pre-owned DVF pants. Similar here. Haute Hippie bodysuit. Similar here & only $22! Sézane bag available here. Chan Luu scarf. Similar here.
Doên blouse. Similar here . Pink Yotto mini. Similar here . Céline bag. Similar here . Frye boots. Similar here .
A great rule of thumb for the slow-fashion minded (or anyone who loves the idea of an easy capsule wardrobe of things you can put on and that can make you feel instantly both polished and effortless) is to ask yourself this question before making a purchase: will I wear this item at least 30 times? (I've also recently heard another useful shopping question you can ask yourself to help you make better shopping choices: do you want a piece or do you love it? Only buy what you love!) That said, and excellent questions to ask myself before shopping notwithstanding, minimalism doesn't seem to be in the cards for me. At least not when it comes to clothes or shoes. I love vintage-shopping and thrift-hunting too much!
However, every season I do tend to build my outfits around a few key investment pieces, and these boots are one of my favorite, investment staples of the season. Actually, the Sabrina boots are as functional as they're comfortable and chic, and I feel like I'll be wearing these until I wear them out! That has tended to be the case with all my Frye boots! They've even defined different times in my life-- my first pair of nice boots were Frye over-the-knee boots back in 2009 and accompanied me on many an audition, and I still love my Frye cowboy boots even if, sadly, they're the one pair I grew out of after I had my second child. (Size up in Frye for the sake of posterity!!) Whether you buy your Frye secondhand or at a discount on Bluefly here or brand-spanking new (if they're sold out at Bluefly in your size in black be sure to check out them out in this burgundy color as well) in my experience they're always a worthwhile investment. Again, please note: painful experience has also taught me to size a half or full size up in all my Frye purchases.
Which look is your favorite? Do you prefer 1,2, or 3? Do you own a pair of lace-up boots with a chic edge?
FYI I also love the more delicate lace-up versions of these booties at Rouje and Sézane, but I thought they were both a little too fancy for my current needs. I could say yes to the Frye boots I'm wearing above, because I knew I could wear them in a variety of situations whether caring for my toddlers or dressed up as in look #3! And they seriously lengthen my legs. I love them! Either way, check out more than 4,000 brands at 70% off at Bluefly here!
First, I'm so excited to share I'm hopping on the bandwagon and starting a YouTube channel to talk about some of the things I've been blogging about here! The studio is set up, woo hoo! Now I just need to find a sitter (UGH!!!) so I don't overwhelm myself again. The struggle to find a sitter is real, you guys! We hire someone and then they move soon after (or we do) or they don't feed my children or they want more of a full-time nanny position. I want to be home with my kids right now while they're so little; however, I do need an occasional break. So before adding another thing to my plate (and a YouTube channel would be a BIG thing), I thought it would be wise to make sure I have a break-system set up.
In the meantime, I plan to keep writing brief posts here and Insta! That's not too taxing, because, first and foremost, I love, love, love talking about green beauty care. Since making the switch to cruelty-free and organic products, I have never gotten so many compliments on my skin in my life. Ever since I made the switch to greener brands and a mostly vegetarian/ vegan diet, my skin has reflected that change in a way that surprised me in the best way, especially as I made the change as more of a broader switch to living a greener lifestyle and not specifically for beauty reasons. However, my skin is undeniably brighter and clearer and that's definitely a happy side effect! (Full disclosure: currently, I have a serving of red meat about once ever 4-6 weeks still and fish once or twice a week; I'm planning to try to go vegetarian again with the help of this easy vegan cookbook I just found, but that's a great subject for another post!)
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite green beauty brands with some codes and discounts and where to buy them:
1. Edible Beauty
I've been using this No. 3 Exotic Goddess serum for a month now, and it's life-changing. In my experience, investing in beauty products can be heartbreaking, because even if something is touted as being great, what works well for one person might not effect the same magic on another's skin, and then you're out a fortune. This serum was only moderately expensive at $54 but made such a dramatic, and yes even magical, difference I'd recommend it to anyone. Not only is the brand cruelty-free and organic, made with wild-gathered ingredients (see below), but their gold standard are ingredients that are actually, literally edible. Hence their name. I've only just expanded my use of their products to their Coco Bliss Intensive Night Repair mask and their eye cream. I'll let you guys know what I think in about a month! For now, I noticed if you buy through their website you can try four of their products for $145 plus 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter! That might sound like a lot but all four bottles are full size and last a good amount of time. Plus, with the discount that's only about $30 a bottle. Some of that cost is also part of buying products in glass bottles instead of plastic, so that's another reason, besides that of incredible quality, I think it's worth forking out a few extra bucks and cutting back elsewhere! They're also available here at Sephora.
What else you need to know:
This product is vegan, formulated without gluten, hypoallergenic, and cruelty-free. It is suitable for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding.
Edible: skin absorbs 60 percent of the substances that we place on it. So, what we put on our body is just as important as what we put in it. Edible Beauty Australia’s gold standard for purity is an edible ingredient list. This means they use only food-grade ingredients to create their range of therapeutic, wildcrafted, botanical skincare. Products are free of alcohol, fragrance, propylene glycol, preservatives, colors, and synthetics, and come packaged in Miron violet glass, which filters damaging UV rays while preserving and activating the botanical ingredients found inside.
Wildcrafted: the use of Australian wildcrafted botanicals raises the therapeutic profile of each and every formula. Found growing in remote and arid regions of Australia, these plants are forced to develop a strong antioxidant defense and preservation system to survive. When used topically, these qualities transfer to your skin, in the form of potent anti-aging, protective, nourishing, and hydrating benefits.
2. Drunk Elephant
Drunk Elephant has probably come to your attention if you spend any time on Instagram at all these days, which means most of you have probably heard of it and maybe think of it as another blogger's fad. No way! Yes, they might be a bit of a status item at the moment, as they're more on the expensive end of the spectrum. I was hesitant to try out their products for the same reasons stated above-- what might work wonders on another's skin might not necessarily suit your skin's current needs and then you're out a pretty penny... If you're as hesitant as I am, try this: Drunk Elephant offers a set called "the littles". The set contains most of their products and can give you a sense of which ones are worth investing in. While the bottles are little, the ingredients are so high quality you only need a few drops to cover your whole face! In fact, I've had the "little" bottles all summer! I've come to learn I really love two of their products-- their virgin marual luxury face oil. A tiny bit really goes a long way! My full-sized bottle is going to last forever, so it's worth the investment. I also love, love, love their T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial. Whenever I'm feeling really tired, I'll slap this on for fifteen minutes and my skin emerges glowing. I bought my first bottle back in February and I'm still on it! I've maybe given myself over 20 professional-looking facials all from the same bottle. It's definitely worth the $80 investment. Like I said, though, if you're hesitant, because of the cost, check out "the littles" here before you pick which full-sized bottle to spend more on! Drunk Elephant is also a supporter of the International Elephant Foundation. Read more below!
If you want to know more…
This innovative at-home "facial" contains a whopping 25 percent AHA and 2 percent BHA, plus Drunk Elephant’s dream team blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids. It gently but efficiently resurface the skin as it exfoliates, getting rid of built-up dead skin cells by breaking down the substance that holds them to the surface. Think of it as an extra nudge for stubborn, dull skin (in other words, it’ll knock your cells off). Babyfacial™ combines potent antioxidants like matcha, apple fruit, and milk thistle to calm and sooth with ultra-hydrating sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer and non-fragrant plant oils to replenish moisture and nourish. Chick pea flour brightens and balances the skin without over-drying, and pumpkin ferment delivers amazing enzymatic action. Niacinamide, a "cell-communicating" ingredient, effectively revives skin’s healthy look and feel as it brightens and tones. Appropriate for all skin types, Babyfacial™ will dramatically smooth texture, minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles, unclog pores, and boost overall clarity—revealing fresh, radiant, baby-soft skin.
What else you need to know:
Babyfacial™ was created with every skin type in mind. Glycolic acids get a bad rap for being sensitizing, but Drunk Elephant believes that it’s the pH level and accompanying ingredients (think fragrant oils or high amounts of alcohol) that can be the real problem. They’ve formulated Babyfacial™ at the ideal pH level of 3.5 with a blend of acids that work together to ensure higher efficacy without the redness and sensitization. It is free of fragrance, essential oil, silicone, and irritant.
Drunk Elephant is committed to using only clean ingredients that either directly benefit the skin’s health or support the integrity and effectiveness of the formulations. They never take into account an ingredient’s synthetic or natural status, but instead choose based on its safety and bio-compatibility. You won’t find what Drunk Elephant calls "the suspicious six" of any kind in their products (1. silicones, 2. chemical screens, 3. sensitizing colorants/perfumes, 4. sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) 5. essential oils, 6. drying alcohols), making them appropriate for all skin. They believe that these six ubiquitous ingredients are at the root of almost every skin issue. When formulating the products, they focus on pH and toxicity, always making sure that the actives are at efficacious levels. This is the Drunk Elephant difference.
Drunk Elephant is a supporter of IEF (International Elephant Foundation) and is cruelty-free.
3. Bliss In the Honey Face Mask
I was really gratified to discover this brand at Target of all places! It's not only highly effective and very affordable at around $12-16 a unit, but the brand is committed to a cruelty-free ethos as I mentioned in a previous post. The only problem I can think of with their products is the plastic packaging, but I think that's how they're able to make spa-worthy products at affordable prices. I can understand the desire for a higher profit margin but I do wish these products came in glass. They're as good as the ones that do! I've been slowly trying out all their products, but so far this honey-lavender mask is my favorite. I'm also a huge fan of lavender. You can read about more of the amazing, surprises uses for lavender that I've discovered here.
What are some of your favorite green beauty products? Would you guys be interested in a YouTube video about more of these green beauty products or how I apply them?
P.S. Ahh! Okay, I made my first one, using my limited at-home technology. Check it out and leave a comment. Thank you!
A Slow Fashion Diary